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« Book Sales vs. TV Viewership | Main | Toni Bentley Redux »

November 07, 2003

Book Sales vs. TV Viewship Redux

Dear Friedrich --

Wow, I really was tired when I put up that posting last night comparing sales for "The Lovely Bones" to viewership for "Skin," wasn't I? Failed entirely to make any interesting points whatsoever. Well, it's a new day, the caffeine in me is still relatively fresh, and Deb, Nate, Reuben, Iris, and The Wife have all given me firm kicks in the butt. So I'm going to try to formulate some of what intrigued me about those numbers.

While almost everyone understands that hit books and hit TV show are measured by two different scales, I've found that many people are surprised by how drastic the difference between those scales is. What the figures for "The Lovely Bones" and "Skin" dramatize is this: that even an unnoticed, quickly-canceled TV-series flop gets many times the audience that a famous and widely-discussed hit book gets.

So, despite the way that books are discussed as significant and important things, only the biggest hit books even begin to edge their way into the realm of what's generally considered to be pop or mass culture. Only a small handful of books a year play in that league.

To descend for a minute into the realm of the more possible and plausible: if I were to write a novel and it were to sell 200,000 copies, my publisher and I would be prancing around, celebrating an enormous and unexpected success. Yet 200,000 copies in a country of 300 million people? That's reaching less than a tenth of one percent of the population. And the sad fact is that if I wrote and published a first novel and it sold 20,000 copies, that'd be quite a surprise -- 20,000 hardcover copies is darned good for a first work of fiction. Yet that would be to reach less than a hundredth of a percent of the population.

Nate makes the distinction between two different kinds of "important": "numerically and economically important" vs. "culturally important." It's an excellent distinction, and one that it'd be great to see cultural-discussion specialists make (and respect) more often and more clearly. We too often let the two categories overlap and blend.

Let's use Nate's distinction. OK, very few books are numerically and economically important. And how about "culturally important"? Hmm. How to judge? Some nonfiction policy-type books have certainly had a discernable impact: "The End of History," "Bowling Alone," etc. But how about fiction?

Well, depends on how you define "cultural importance," doesn't it? If you're using harder and more objective criteria -- ie., demonstrable effect at a significant level -- my hunch is that very few qualify. Stephen King certainly; he revived the horror genre, an achievement with large cultural consequences. Anne Rice fused rock-and-roll and vampire sexiness, and is partly responsible for the persistence of the Goth phenom in many media. Michael Crichton played a role in making the well-researched sci-fi thriller thing go over; Rosemary Rogers helped revive the romance; Grisham and Turow put over the lawyer-thriller; Clancy made techno-thrillers happen. I'm sure I'm missing a few others who've made a significant cultural impact. But I'm also pretty sure I'm not missing many.

Ah: I hear the voices of those who still wish they were back in English class. What about art? What about literature? What about Updike, Bellow, Morrison? Well, what about them? How can this kind of importance be determined? (By polling critics and professors? Not if I can help it.) Hard to avoid the conclusion that "cultural importance" of the literary sort 1) doesn't often reach far out into the culture at large and 2) can only be determined in soft and subjective ways.

It's a kind of importance, in other words, that's highly debatable. Morrison? I can see a solid-ish argument being made that she helped put over a kind of multicultural something. The numbers are there; the multicultural phenom is there; and she's certainly played a significant-ish role in that development.

But what do people mean when they say Updike is an "important" writer? The numbers aren't there; he sells well for a literary writer, but to say he "sells well for a literary writer" means that we're back in teeny-weeny-land. He hasn't had much of a pop-culture or larger-culture impact, though it could be argued that "American Beauty" is inconceivable without Updike. (Possible response: lots of writers have carried on about adultery and suburbia.) Hard-to-forgive influence (even if not his fault): his work has certainly led many young writers to think that creating good fiction is a matter of writing a lot of dazzling sentences about upper-middle-class travails.

Even if it can be solidly maintained that Updike has been of tremendous importance to the literary world, how important is the American literary world to the general culture of America? Not very. So perhaps those who maintain that Updike is important do so because they think the quality of his work justifies making the claim. But this is, as far as I can tell, conceding that his "importance" is entirely a matter of opinion -- they just think he's damn good. (And they also think they deserve to be the people who make this judgment.) But what if you don't think he's that good? What if Iris and Dwight don't? What if I don't?

Parenthetically: who are these people who have decided that the work of John Updike should be deemed important? I've known a number of them and bear them no animus. But they're no smarter, no better-educated, no better-read, and no more infallible as judges of literary quality than you are, or I am, or our visitors are.

A provisional conclusion: perhaps it doesn't make a lot of sense to get caught up in questions of a contemporary literary writer's "importance." How can an answer be arrived at? And perhaps it doesn't make a lot of sense either to urge people to read a contemporary literary book because it's "important." Sez who? By any objective criterion, almost no new literary book is important. And as for "important" in an artistic sense -- well, that won't be even semi-definitively determined for decades. Even then the decision arrived at could be wrong -- and then opinions might change anyway.

My preference, FWIW, would be that people (reviewers, critics, friends) who want to urge a literary book on others quit attempting to do so by stressing its importance; it's a strategy that looks pompous, and that generates lots of resistance and resentment. As someone who loves some contempo literary writing, I wish they'd try different tactics instead; I understand where they're coming from, but I think they're doing the field they love a disservice by making arrogant and unsustainable claims for it. Why not be more personal and more modest instead? For instance, by saying, "Here, I enjoyed it," or "If you're in the mood for this kind of thing, I think you might enjoy this," or "Here, this gave me a lot of pleasure," or even "Here, she's my favorite author, and this is the book of hers I love most." And then explaining why.

That particular rant to one side, I generally find that keeping comparative media figures in mind can be helpful. One example: it can help make sense of why hit books often make lousy movies. It's partly because, as is widely recognized, "the writing" doesn't come across onscreen. But it may also be because hit books are hits on an indie scale, not on a studio-movie scale. Is there any reason to expect that a story and characters that work for an audience of a million people should also work for an audience of ten or twenty million people?

Deb suggests that comparing TV shows with books is like comparing apples with oranges, and Reuben and Iris add that people often watch and read in very different spirits. Very good, and necessary, points. They're also points that remind me of something that I should try to spell out.

IMHO, book fans too often misconceive what's happened (and is still happening) to the trade book publishing industry. What's generally imagined is that, where the publishing business was once artistic, intellectual and idealistic -- like a college or a nonprofit -- it's now a business, and that those damn business pressures are wreaking havoc on what was once a serene, cultured, and gentlemanly field.

Baloney to that: the books business has always been more of a business than legend has been willing to allow. It isn't that what once wasn't a business has now been forced to become a business. It's that a business of a certain kind of being transformed into a business of another kind. What's changed is the nature of the business.

What the book industry used to be was a handicraft business. Books, at least traditional books, are best thought of as one-offs -- unique, handcrafted products, each with its own marketing needs. The Random Houses and Knopfs of old-days folklore were mainly caught up in creating and marketing one-offs. It was a small, quirky industry, but one that (for a variety of reasons) had a lot of cultural prestige.

Things today, of course, are much different. Nearly all the major publishers have been taken over by media conglomerates. The consequence is that the trade-book industry is no longer a sleepy little handicrafts business with a lot of cultural prestige. Instead, it's become a branch of the media business.

It's become, in fact, the low-end, or at least low-budget, end of the media business; it's nothing in terms of scale compared to television or movies. (Let alone videogames.) One consequence, more evident with every passing year: trade publishing used to attract some of the country's brainiest verbal people. These days it's more likely to attract media-operator types who can't make it in the higher levels of the media game.

This is why I think it's valid to compare the book industry with the TV industry. Despite the diffs between a book and a TV show, these days they're both products of the mediabiz. The book industry and the TV industry both conceive of themselves as bidding for your spare time and your recreation dollar; they're both going digital as fast as they can. (They have to.) They're different veggies, yes, but along with all the other digital-media bizzes they're melting into and swimming in the same digital-mediabiz stew.

I posted not long ago on how the trade-book publishing business is both weak and anxious right now despite the activity witnessable at your local B&N. One big cause of this anxiety is the fear that expansion may be slowing to a crawl. Once all the big and medium-sized markets have been superstored, and once the big-box retail places have made room for books too, how many more retail channels and venues can be opened? It's possible -- or at least some in the business fear that it's possible -- that nearly all Americans have as much access to books as they care to have. There may now be almost nothing getting between Americans and the books they want to buy. Which means that Americans may well be buying nearly all the books they care to buy. Where's further sales growth to come from? From people reading more books than they do already? Fat chance of that.

Another anxiety-creator is the fact that books by the blockbuster authors (the Crichtons, etc) are currently tanking badly -- so badly that they're having to be discounted. Tens of millions of dollars have been sunk into these authors in the expectation that they'd provide safe and regular sources of income, if not always profits.

The scale of the books biz as a mediabiz (ie., modest) is key here. The company that has sunk tens of millions into Crichton and isn't doing well with his new book is taking a terrible beating. Larger mediabiz fields -- movies, TV -- are financed and structured in ways that enable them to take giant losses; they expect to lose not just money but tons of money on three of every four projects. That's just the way the movie and TV businesses work. But the booksbiz doesn't have pockets that deep, and it doesn't have a history or a structure that enables it to absorb gigantic amounts of damage. If a Crichton novel isn't moving, it doesn't matter all that much if his publisher has five surprise hits because it's almost certain that they won't be on the scale that's needed to make up for the losses the Crichton is inflicting. Besides, many of the mega-deals with blockbuster authors were worked out in the expectation that the business would continue to grow; these deals were intended to provide insurance against downturns. Instead, what's happening now is that they're dragging the whole industry further down.

The fact that the booksbiz has become a branch of the digital mediabiz also helps explain why there's such pressure in the air to develop book franchises -- equivalents in one way or the other to something like the "For Dummies" series. In a word: being a mediabiz, the books industry now wants to get as far out of the business of selling one-offs as possible -- selling one-offs is not what a mediabiz does best, or is most comfortable doing. In the same way that a movie company wants a hit that can spin off sequels and a TV company wants a series that will last for years and go into syndication, the bookbiz wants products and labels they can count on, and that will deliver not one blast of cash but long-term, steady income.

One final wrinkle here: despite being a branch of the mediabiz, the book-publishing biz is a small branch of it. This puts the bookbiz in a pickle. They have no choice but to operate as a mediabiz. But what if mediabiz approaches (blockbusters, branding, franchises) don't work well at the scale of the books market? And what if the mediabiz approach doesn't deliver what customers are looking for from books? All in all, an interesting time in book-publishing history.

Hey, does no one else find it as amazing as I do the way that the demographics of the trade-book-publishing business have changed? As I've noted before, the editorial side of book publishing -- which as recently as the '50s and '60s was probably 80% straight-white-male -- is now about 70% female. And many of the guys in the biz are now gay. That's quite a transformation to have taken place in a mere couple of decades, or so it seems to me. To no one else?

Thanks to everyone for kicking me out of my lethargy. Eager to hear everyone else's thoughts and reflections here. (Alexis -- some thoughts about ebooks? Courtney -- videogames?)

Incidentally, and in the hope of forstalling a few misunderstandings: I'm not gloomy, I enjoy reading and writing, I wish authors well, I've got a lot of sympathy for people working in book publishing, and my English degree is as good as anyone else's, more or less. My point in these postings about the book business is simply to take note of some of the many things that are happening as the business is being absorbed into the larger world of the digital mediabiz. I am but a camera -- if one with the occasional bizarro opinion.

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at November 7, 2003




Comments

Except that, without litra-cher profs, I don't know that there would be any consensus at all on what is "important." Even Shakespeare. For everybody who worships his words, there are six more who simply find it unintelligible. C'mon, these are people who get truly involved in "The Bachelor." It really would all be the personal taste of the person browsing the bookstore. One of the very best books I ever read was called "Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady" (in the forward she says, "Before I begin, I want to say in my own defense: Regardless of which sex I went to bed with, I never, ever smoked on the street." Love it. It was insightful, gripping, biting, funny, and ultimately compassionate. Later on, she recognizes that two of her most-despised southern stereotypes, a rich little Sorority ditz and a redneck truckdriver have actually turned out to be "a true gentleman, and a very great lady."). Nobody's teaching it in English class. Take that over "The Scarlet Letter" any day, personally. The "importance" would be truly personal and individual. Which may be the best...but no more "Updike is an important writer" comments. Maybe that's fine. It's sort of a pompous comment anyway.

BUT I don't think ticket sales, so to speak, seem drive the "importance" discussion anywhere. Every single critics' list put "Raging Bull" at the top of their "most important pics of the eighties" list and it went nowhere at the box office. Some of Meryl Streep's most heralded performances have been seen by almost no one.

It IS critics and profs who drive the "importance" dialog.

Posted by: annette on November 7, 2003 7:20 PM



Which is why my general preference is to skip that particular conversation these days. Hey, if they can't recognize that "Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady" is a swell book, what use are they? Movies and books are the two art forms I've followed closely in the contempo world, as they were happening. And as it happened, my personal best-of list in both fields (especially books) barely overlaps at all with the official, standard contempo best-of list. Why should this be?

A little more seriously: I'm just trying to draw a distinction between "important" and "good" (or, maybe better, between "important" and "I liked this"). You ain't gonna catch me arguing that box office receipts or sales figures are any indication of quality, and given my apparently quirky and perverse tastes and temperament, popular success is usually a pretty trustworthy indicator that I won't like something.

I think, though, that when something like "importance" is discussed, evidence doesn't hurt, and sales figures are a kind of evidence. But even then: Stephen King is certainly culturally important (whether or not I'm a fan). But is Dean Koontz? Koontz may or may not be good, and he's certainly very popular. But American cultural life probably wouldn't be much different if he'd never written, where King has had a big impact.

And there are certainly other ways of measuring importance. Robert Altman's an important filmmaker not because of his hits (he's only had a couple), and not because I love some of his movies, and not because I (and a few critics) think he does occasionally fabulous work, but because a lot of filmmakers volunteer that they've been influenced by him, and because his influence is visible in a lot of non-Altman cultural products. Whether he's good or not is debatable. Whether I like him or not isn't -- I get the say-so there. Whether he's important or not? I think, because of concrete evidence, and whether you and I like his work or not, he can be judged to be important. But how can we say someone's important if our only evidence is that a handful of critics and profs say he's important? What kind of evidence is that?

BTW, I think now's a good time too to be especially skeptical of profs (politics have taken over lib-arts departments) and critics (who are under all kinds of pressures these days). Always good to be skeptical of them, but maybe now especially. All due respect to their hard work and efforts, of course.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 7, 2003 7:48 PM



Got it. Maybe it's just my quirkiness, but then I guess the word "influential" just rings more bells with me than "important." "Influential" also seems more measurable, although I admit not scientifically so.

Posted by: annette on November 7, 2003 8:04 PM



Oops, sorry, I was getting a little squinty-eyed there and probably missing your point. I think you're right: "influential" is much better than "important." At least it's semi-measurable.

What I was hoping and failing to say is that (IMHO, natch) judgments of "literary importance," if they're to mean anything worth paying attention to, should probably be thought of as arising out of many different conversations: popularity, lastingness, detectable influence on other artists, what you and I think, even what the profs and critics see in a work ... Out of all these conversations (all of which take some time) arises some semi-trustworthy, semi-stable judgment of what's important and what's not. And then, of course, we all get to disagree.

What can be a little annoying is when one of these conversations thinks it has (or should have) the final word on what's important and what's not, don't you find?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 7, 2003 8:08 PM



When I was doing my thesis for my history degree, my professor taught a way to measure the influence of a book which I have found to resonate clearly - look for the citations. How many people recognize and reference this person's work? Doesn't matter how many copies sold, how many people actually read it - it matters how people use it.

I think that in the same way that we can trace the origin of an influential idea through citations in a book, one can trace influential patterns in movies and television. Who did it first? Who used it later? This pattern tracing is why listening to director's commentary on movie DVDs is so fascinating (for those who care, and I'm not one of them) - the directors will tell you "I saw so and so and I wanted to recreate that effect."

And yes, I think you can trace the effect of movies and television on culture. IMHO, using women's fashion is particularly helpful. Think about "The Bridges of Madison County." Remember the dress she wore - the one that has the top that crossed over? Six months later, everyone wanted one. I'm not a cultural follower, but I'm sure similar patterns are there.

Videogames do that too, and if you're 'up' on the industry, you'll note the bright and shining stars of the industry tend to be the most influential. Miyamoto created Pikmin, which didn't do very well, and the Mario franchise, which is incredibly popular - but the Mario franchise was the first. He did it first, and he still does it best. Eventually, it'll be somebody else.

Interestingly enough, movies, there are no lending libraries of games. Blockbuster is trying to create a rental market, but that's not hugely successful. Videogames are more like books in this respect - they tend to be bought at a specialized store, taken home, read/played for as long as the reader/player wants (usually hours to days - a short videogame takes 5 to 10 hours; a long one can take from 100 to 200 hours), and then either stacked on a shelf, or passed along to a friend. Like books, though, newness counts - "I've already read/played that one" and "Gosh, I remember this one - I loved it!" Like books, videogames take an enormous production cost, and make it up on sales.

Like our earlier discussion on the future of books, videogames are created by teams of software writers, called developers, who specialize in this creation. There is an artisan, like Miyamoto, who has the central creative idea/storyline. Outside PR firms are hired to market the final product, which takes years to create - similar to novels.

Like publishers, game developers have to invest huge sums of money upfront, and then make their money back on the copies sold. I don't know how much it actually costs to set a print-run of books, but I strongly suspect that game developers have the edge on this one - you can print a CD for pennies - so you're actually paying for the content, on this one.

I find it interesting that while publishers have been absorbed by international conglomerates, videogame publishers are split between large zaibatsu like Sony/Nintendo/Sega/Squaresoft/etc, independent (wealthy) houses like Activision/EA, and foreign-owned companies like Infogrames/Vivendi/Ubisoft.

And the videogame industry has huge growth potential. Moving out from the teenage boy market, those boys have grown into early middle age, had kids of their own - and now their wives and kids are thinking about playing videogames - tap into that market, and you'll be exceedingly wealthy.

Posted by: Courtney on November 7, 2003 9:12 PM



I myself have a semi-thought out measure of cultural impact: how much does someone who has not actually directly experienced the work in question acquire a knowledge of it just through cultural transmission?

I was thinking of this in terms of current "literary" novels - specifically, when everyone a few years back was gushing about "The Corrections". I realized that, even though I was a fairly media saturated guy (Sunday NYT, including Book Review, every week, most of the highfalutin' magazines, as well as internet time wasting), I had absolutely no idea what this book was about. No knowledge of who the characters were, what the plot was (although, being a Modern Novel, I kind of suspected it didn't have such a jejuene contrivance as "plot"), what it was trying to say. Even though it, and it's Oprah-dissing author, was all every media outlet seemed to be talking about, the book itself was a vast blank spot.

Then I think about Dickens. I must confess I have never read the vast majority of his work. And yet, I "know" about it - I can name some characters, and I at least have some feeeling for the world he created. It's part of the culture. The last book I remember being like this was "Bonfire of the Vanities" - that is, before I read it (and before the movie came out) I knew who Sherman McCoy was, and you would even see references to it in non-literary sources. THat's just doesn't seem to happen much anymore...

Just some Saturday night musings that your posting sparked - really no idea if I have a point, here...

Posted by: jimbo on November 8, 2003 9:42 PM



Being critical of the critics does not sell. For the most part, in depth analysis of the how one comes about judging who the greatest writers are does not sell. Going off on the injustice of it all probably won’t sell either. Many people get to be the “critics” because of the contacts they have made. They are probably writers and artists who could not make it and so have turned to being critical. Often it is easier to rip on the work of someone else than it is to create one of your own. No offense, however, this posting seemed like a single sperm singing out I “gotta be free I gotta be me” when all the others are heading toward the egg.

It is disturbing when ever mass migrations of workers occur. Maybe the answer for the Gays moving into publishing is that straight people have moved into theater…..or not. Or maybe it has something to do with Gays moving into positions of Power in Hollywood and then spreading to other forms of media.

"...We are- one equal temper of herioc hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yeild." -Alfred Lord Tennyson The gays won’t always be in charge of the media. Not that it will do any writer much good, but those positions will change with time. They all must follow the all mighty buck. And it is the tastes of the people that make writers great, not necessarily the writer themselves. If he/she can write something that touches the common consciousness in the right way, who ever sets themselves up selling that “right way” will be in the drivers seat.
Not that I know anything about writing, but my guess is further Sales growth is going to come from writers writing books that the general public wants to read. Good luck satisfying the fickle taste of the planet. Just remember you are not the only one. After all I read and heard this business is not a fight of good quality against evil publishers. This is one great big game of survivor. You absolutely right. Its subjective, the people making the decisions should not be in power. The whole process is crazy and all wrong. Now Get back in the game.

Posted by: shipshape on November 9, 2003 10:52 AM



As always, Michael, a well thought out, articulate post.

What I realized is that you and I see books from two different perspectives. I look at them as something I purchase with money I earn. You see them as a product produced to generate revenue via sales. Both are valid. And books as bidness is not new. If I recall my lit history correctly, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was a huge marketing success akin in it's day to the modern day Harry Potter with spin off products, plays etc.

However, one difference in the TV vs book thing that you didnt mention is the presence of advertising built within the product. Watch any TV show on a network and you get, what, 15 minutes of advertisting per hour. That just doesnt happen with books.

I tend to think that the important/influential books of any period will only be determined by distance from it. Trollope was hugely important as a writer in his time and is only read by stuffy former English majors such as myself now. I suspect that Updike and perhaps Bellow will go the same way. Nice period pieces but not really relevant to the future reader. Steinbeck and maybe, Hemingway, however, I tend to think will still be read long after Updike has gone to blissful obscurity. Updike may be taught, but he wont actually be read.

Posted by: Deb on November 9, 2003 7:21 PM



Hmmmmm. How about Stendahl and his notion of "the happy few"? I think he was always pretty clear about writing for a very small audience indeed, although he seemed cheered up by the notion that his audience would be multiplied by time, so to speak. Of course, such a notion probably made a lot more sense in a still-essentially feudal world.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on November 10, 2003 1:28 AM



In my (admittedly small)universe this post will be called Beating A Dead Horse # N. Enough already!

Literary fiction is supported by an effete band of nancies.No one else cares about Updike and Morrison and Dellilo and Rushdie and Franzen and DBC Pierre and Saul Bellow and Alice Munro and Coetzee. And you have the sales figures and Arbitrons to prove it.

It must be fun for you to regularly attempt to reconcile the marketplace with the world of ideas and art.

Maybe it's my own blind spot or stupidity but I am still trying to understand why? Perhaps, I will, one day...

Posted by: Robert Birnbaum on November 10, 2003 8:48 AM



Courtney -- Thanks again for the input and info about videogames, a subject I should obviously know a little something about but don't. Videogames: the lit of the future?

Jimbo -- "Influence," "buzz," "impact," "word of mouth," they're all slippery, aren't they. One of the funniest fairly-recent developments in book publishing is the book that generates tons of buzz, gets tons of press, gets a lot of people talking about it, yet flops in terms of sales. Everyone's done their job and played their role, but flop-eroo. The operation's a success but the patient died.

Shipshape -- You write, "This business is not a fight of good quality against evil publishers. This is one great big game of survivor." And I think that's right on the money. Anything goes, and anything is going. I may be a little more charitable towards critics and reviewers than you are -- the ones I've known have been smart and hard-working. But I think our view of publishing's predicament is pretty close.

Deb -- Couldn't agree more: distance is necessary. And, as you point out, so is the input from many different points of view: consumer, producer, observer, etc ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 10, 2003 9:10 PM



FvB -- Any excuse to remind a few people of Stendhal is OK by me. For some reason I think I once knew what his publishing and lit history was, but most of those brain cells seem to be gone now. Didn't sell well during his lifetime; plaigiarized a bit; enjoyed using pseudonyms; never made enough from writing to support himself for long; Balzac praised "Charterhouse" ... But after that I blank out. How did he get discovered after his death? Who proclaimed him great? How did he wind up on reading lists? I think I once knew. But maybe not. Anyway, I should look it up.

Robert -- The time's come to admit that you have a sick addiction to this blog.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 11, 2003 1:55 AM



thanks Michael,

You are right. I am not being fair to critics. And I have done little in the realm of being a real writer. Should I actually have some success then perhaps I would have an opinion that has some weight behind it. As it stands I am still only just beginning. I see writing for an income as something that is most difficult based on the limited research I have done. But even when I am at my most negative I can still find a bit of hope in it.

Is it me or do we gravitate toward the negative here? We could use a posting that will really inspire our collective humor genius. Maybe it’s already here and I have to look for it.

Posted by: shipshape on November 12, 2003 2:20 AM






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